I just learned about an initiative of the Urban Land Istitute’s Columbus chapter in the Dispatch. It’s called Columbus 2050 and they’re seeking public input on the future of the Central Ohio, specifically housing. Their questions:
- What do we hope to accomplish with our housing by 2050?
- What are potential impediments to reaching those goals?
- What specifically must we do over the next 3 years to reach our goals?
The Dispatch framed the question a different way:
What will central Ohio look like in 2050?
Will housing stretch uninterrupted to Urbana, Chillicothe and Marion or will run-down Columbus neighborhoods instead be rejuvenated?
Will the Outerbelt be surrounded by another freeway, or will trains bring people to the center city?
I’ll ask yet another way. Let’s say that Central Ohio adds 500,000 people by 2050. Perhaps it’s ambitious, but I think it’s possible. How much land do we want them to occupy? Here are two images at the same scale. Do you want approximately 333 square miles of this (assumes residential density of 1500 persons per square mile)?
Or would you rather have 42 square miles of this (assumes residential density of 12,000 people per square mile)?
Note that if you choose the second option, you will have 291 extra square miles of land that can be used for open space (i.e., parks and forest preserve) or preserved as valuable farmland to support larger populations (eating seems important to me). The government – and homeowners by extension – will spend far less money per capita on miles of roads, sewers, water pipes, and other utilities. And you’ll have the option to walk to stores, schools, parks, and restaurants without getting in your car. I know which one I want, and it’s not the path we’re currently traveling.
Check out the Columbus 2050 blog and leave a comment to let them know your opinion.